Of the 62 current or former Major League Baseball players born on May 13, only four of them appeared on baseball cards during the 1980s.
First up was Juan Beniquez, who played from 1971 through 1988 and landed on plenty of cardboard during the hobby boom years, including a nifty 1980 Topps entry with the New York Yankees.
Next was Lenny Faedo, who played for the Minnesota Twins from 1980 through 1984 and made a handful of appearances in Topps and Fleer sets beginning in 1982.
And then there was Cincinnati Reds great Jose Rijo, who made his cardboard debut as a member of the Yanks in the 1984 Topps Traded and Fleer Update sets, and continued to appear in our packs through the early 2000s.
Backing up a bit, though, we find a guy who never laced up his spikes in the 80s but who shares both an exact birthday (5/13/1950) and space in the 1980 Topps set with Beniquez.
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That dude would be former Rangers, Mets, and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
Valentine, once a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers, had struggled to stay in the lineup after a freak entanglement with the outfield wall in May 1973 while he was a member of the California Angels left him with a compound leg fracture.
As the 1979 season dawned, Valentine was trying to stick with the Mets (as a player) for a third season, but they cut him in late March.
The Mariners signed him on April 10 and, though he appeared in 62 games with Seattle, he managed just 122 plate appearances.
Apparently reading the writing on the wall after struggling to crack the lineup for one of the Majors’ worst teams, Valentine retired in the off-season rather than seek a free agent contract elsewhere.
Topps, meanwhile, apparently thought the 29-year-old had something left in the tank and issued this smiling Valentine card in 1980. In those days, the venerable card company virtually never printed cards for players they knew weren’t coming back, which is why we see no 1974 Topps Willie Mays card, no 1977 Topps Hank Aaron card, no 1990 Topps Mike Schmidt card.
But … we DO get a career-capper for Bobby Valentine — a sweetheart of a deal if you’re into dugout disguises, I suppose.
P.S.– The Mariners traded for Beniquez on November 1, 1979, the same day Valentine became a free agent. Perhaps the M’s had a hard cap on the number of May 13th babies they could carry on their roster??